AMD's newest GPU drivers reduce power usage in YouTube, but only at 4K

AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT
(Image credit: AMD)

AMD's latest Adrenalin driver package (version 21.8.1) adds support for the company's newly minted Radeon RX 6600 XT graphics card, but its biggest benefit isn't listed in the release notes—the potential for significantly lower power usage when watching YouTube videos.

This is something the Radeon RX 6000 series as a whole has struggled with since launch, according to ComputerBase, which tested power consumption levels with the 21.8.1 driver release. What the site found is that the new driver package brings power consumption generally in line with Nvidia's GeForce RTX 30 series.

The caveat is that "the improvements are only available in certain load situations." Most notably, the site observed big drops in power consumption while watching YouTube videos in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second.

AMD's Radeon RX 6700 XT appears to have benefited the most. Whereas the site's testing showed it consuming 30W with the launch driver installed, the latest driver knocks it down to 18W. That's just 2W higher than the just-launched 6600 XT.

Meanwhile, the Radeon RX 6900 XT went from 42W with the older driver to 30W with the new one. Both the Radeon RX 6800 XT and Radeon RX 6800 consumed 40W before the driver update, and dropped to 32W and 33W, respectively, with the 21.8.1 driver.

According to ComputerBase, the reason for the big dip in power consumption is because with older drivers in play, the memory clocks on AMD's newest Radeon cards run full bore. Apparently the latest driver release is better at intelligently managing memory clocks.

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There is still room for improvement, though. For example, when watching videos at the same resolution but in HDR, there is no reduction in power consumption. It's actually a touch worse where comparisons are available, albeit just 1W across the board.

AMD's new 6600 XT starts off in a good place at 31W. The 6700 XT, however, goes from 42W to 43W with the new driver, while the rest of lineup hovers around 61-63W. Memory clocks run at max speed when HDR comes into play, hence why the efficiency gains go out the window.

In any event, if you watch a lot of YouTube videos (especially in 4K) and own an RDNA 2 card, it's worth installing the latest driver. It also fixes a crashing issue in The Medium that can occur while running FrameView. Otherwise, it's a rather sparse driver package with nothing else of note.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).